Benzodiazepines (pronounced ben-zoh-die-AZ-a-peens) are depressant drugs. This means that they slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages travelling between the brain and the body. They do not necessarily make a person feel depressed. Other depressants include alcohol, cannabis and heroin.

Benzodiazepines, also known as minor tranquilizers, are most commonly prescribed by doctors to relieve stress and anxiety and to help people sleep. However, there is increasing concern among medical professionals about the risks of using these drugs, particularly when they are used for a long time. Some people use benzodiazepines illegally to get high or to help with the ‘come down’ effects of stimulants such as amphetamines or cocaine.

Types of Benzodiazepines

There are three types of benzodiazepines:
  • Long
  • Intermediate
  • Short acting

Short-acting benzodiazepines have stronger withdrawal or ‘come down’ effects and can be more addictive than long-acting ones.
Benzodiazepines are known by their chemical (generic) name or their brand name. In each case the drug is exactly the same – it’s just made by a different company.

Overdose & Mixing with Other Drugs

Benzodiazepines Overdose

If you take a large amount, you could overdose. If you have any of the symptoms below, call an ambulance straight away by dialing 999 or 112:

  • Over-sedation or sleep
  • Jitteriness and excitability
  • Mood swings and aggression
  • Slow, shallow breathing
  • Unconsciousness or coma
  • Death (more likely when taken with another drug such as alcohol)

Mixing Benzodiazepines with other drugs


Breathing difficulties with an increased risk of overdose and death.

Side Effects of

There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries risk.

The effects of taking Benzodiazepines with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medications can be unpredictable and dangerous.